UK outbound travel to EU holiday destinations should resume from July 4, with the government poised to confirm travel corridors to up to 10 countries by the start of next week.
The announcement will come amid a general easing of restrictions after prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Tuesday that UK hotels, restaurants and attractions can reopen from July 4.
However, there is frustration in the industry at the lack of information from ministers.
An airline source said: “It’s moving in the right direction. European corridors are a no-brainer, but we still don’t know the criteria [for deciding these]. Fine, if it’s OK to fly to Spain, but what are the criteria?
There is frustration among airlines. They would like some transparency. If countries are not on the list they will want to know why.”
A second aviation source said: “The government has bunkered down on this. As soon as we get the first travel corridors, it will open things up. But we don’t think travel will be EU-wide on June 29. We’ll probably see a broader EU opening at the six-week review.”
That would be due by July 20, with additional corridors likely to open from July 25.
A third industry source said: “The government will trail bits of information [on air corridors] this week, but the announcement is expected on June 29. Travel will be to a small number of countries.”
France, Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Germany and Belgium are reportedly in line for initial ‘air corridor’ agreements.
The Netherlands is likely to be included as Eurostar services are set to restart. Cyprus and Malta should also have ‘corridors’ and media reports have identified Turkey as on the corridors ‘list’, although Germany has extended travel restrictions to the country to the end of August.
Health secretary Matt Hancock confirmed on Monday: “A lot of work has been done on travel corridors. We have a formal review date of the quarantine policy [on June 29] and we’ll make sure we publish what we plan to do in good time.”
However, the market opening will be limited. Most airlines are expecting to operate no more than 40%-50% of short-haul capacity by August. Tui, which announced its plans to restart from July 11, made a similar forecast.
A leisure industry source said: “There is a general feeling of lightening. The announcements on Tuesday should help.”
Spain removed its threat of quarantining UK visitors at the weekend. Foreign minister Arancha González Laya said: “We will allow British visitors to enter Spain just like the rest of the EU.”
However, the government could face a legal challenge from the European Commission unless it eases restrictions to all EU states.
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